Winter isn’t quite over yet. We woke up to snow this morning with flocked trees and white roofs and lawns—everything quite beautiful (and yet only the day after discovering that my allium and a few daffodil bulbs are showing green shoots). With such weather, soup is on my mind, and today I wanted to make lentil soup. Looking for inspiration, I consulted my favorite soup book, the 1999 classic The Daily Soup Cookbook by Leslie Kaul.
Today’s recipe is an adaptation of The Daily’s Lentil Soup with Roasted Garlic. I deleted a couple of items while increasing others, used fire-roasted diced tomatoes, branches of my dried garden rosemary, and pureed a portion of the soup for a smoother and heartier texture. A most wonderful recipe here for a healthy and delicious, robust and nutrient-rich meal in a bowl.
Let’s talk about the whole head of garlic called for in the list of ingredients. You may be thinking that there is no way you would use an entire head of garlic in one pot of soup, its flavor is too assertive and overpowering. And you’re right on if this were fresh garlic. However, when roasted that head of garlic becomes much mellower and adds a most flavorful and smooth richness that can only be achieved by roasting.
There are a few ways to roast garlic, and the one described in the recipe below is probably the simplest. Just wrap the whole head in foil and place it in a hot (450 degree) oven for 25 minutes. Once you open the foil and smell the garlic, you’ll know you are in for a treat.
Lentils are relatively quick cooking, with different varieties taking anywhere from 30-60 minutes. Unlike other types of dried beans, soaking lentils will not get them to cook more quickly. And, lentils—but not other beans—will cook and soften in the presence of salt and tomatoes. Having cooked them a number of times on their own as well as with salt and tomatoes, I agree there is little if any difference other than the ease of cooking everything in one pot
There is much to love about lentils.
- All of the many varieties of lentils (red, yellow, green, black, brown, white) readily absorb the flavors of the foods which with they are cooked.
- Lentils are nutrient-rich and high in fiber.
- Most varieties are inexpensive and easily available all year long.
Winter Lentil Soup with Roasted Tomatoes and Garlic calls for French Green DePuy lentils, Black Belugas or the well-known brown lentils. Each of these varieties retain their shape when cooked. Brown lentils, though, can be induced to break down the longer they are cooked, so are best when you prefer a creamier soup.
Inspired and Adapted from The Daily Soup Cookbook by Leslie Kaul et al.
Fresh spinach or chard would be a tasty, colorful and healthy addition to this vegan soup.
Makes 13-14 cups
1 whole head of garlic
1½ tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, ¼-inch dice (2 cups)
1½ cup carrots, 1/3-inch dice (peeled if not organic)
1½ cups celery, 1/3-inch dice
1 teaspoon salt
8 twists freshly ground pepper
2 sprigs of dried rosemary (1 tablespoon fresh)
2 bay leaves
1 28-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 pound French (DuPuy) lentils, Black Beluga lentils or brown lentils, rinsed (2 1/3 cups)
9 cups vegetable stock or water
1 tablespoon red wine or balsamic vinegar
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup thinly sliced green onion
A dollop of plain yoghurt
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Wrap the head of garlic in aluminum foil and roast in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. When cool enough to handle, separate the individual cloves from the skin and place the cloves in the blender jar.
Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion. Cover the pot and cook for about 5 minutes until translucent. Remove the lid and stir in the diced carrots and celery and sprinkle with the salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook for 5 minutes.
Stir in the rosemary sprigs, bay leaves and fire-roasted tomatoes. Simmer all together for a few minutes before adding the lentils, stock or water. Cover the pot and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, partially covered for one hour or until the lentils are tender.
Remove 2½ cups of the soup to the blender jar with the roasted garlic cloves. Add the vinegar and puree the mixture until smooth. Stir it into the soup and cook another 2 minutes. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste.
Remove the rosemary stems and bay leaves. Serve the soup with any or all of the optional garnishes.
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